East Meets Midwest: A Publisher’s China Journal

December 2005
by Florrie Binford Kichler

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With a population of 1 billion, a literacy rate of 84 percent, and a publishing industry that is exploding, China has been touted on one hand as the final frontier for American book publishers, and on the other hand as the piracy capital of the universe. Where does the truth lie, and could there be a tiny portion of that huge market for a small children’s book publisher from the American Midwest?

Joining the week-long Stanford Publishing Program’s Travel/Study Tour to China presented a perfect opportunity for me to find out. Eighteen publishers from six countries were my traveling companions as we journeyed to Shanghai and Beijing, visiting publishers, printers, and bookstores, participating in seminars with our Chinese colleagues, and walking the floor at the Beijing International Book Fair.

My goals for making the trip were both personal and professional. Leaping out of one’s comfort zone is scary—traveling 15 hours on a plane (one way) to a country where culture, language, and government were so totally different from what I was used to and spending the week with a group of strangers—publishing strangers, but still strangers—would either kill me or make me stronger (apologies to Nietzsche). Professionally, I wanted to learn: about the industry, about the culture, about doing business, and, on a micro level, whether the Chinese market would have any…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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